« 上一頁繼續 »
us, states their object to be to draw over us the substance, as they had already done the forms of the British government.' Now the forms' here meant, were the levees, birth-days, the pompous cavalcade to the State House on the meeting of Congress, the formal speech from the throne, the procession of Congress in a body to re-echo the speech in an answer, &c. &c. But the translạtor here, by substituting form in the singular number, for forms in the plural, made it mean the frame or organization of our government, or its form of legislative, executive, and judiciary authorities, co-ordinate and independent: to which form it was to be inferred that I was an enemy. In this sense they always quoted it, and in this sense Mr. Pickering still quotes it (pages 34, 35, 38), and countenances the inference. Now General Washington per- , fectly understood what I meant by these forms, as they were frequent subjects of conversation between us. When, on my return from Europe, I joined the government in March, 1790, at New York, I was much astonished, indeed, at the mimicry I found established of royal forms and ceremonies, and more alarmed at the unexpected phenomenon, by the monarchical sentiments I heard expressed and openly maintained in every company, and among others by the high members of the government, executive and judiciary (General Washington alone excepted), and by a great part of the legislature, save only some members who had been of the old Congress, and a very few of recent introduction. I took occasion, at various times, of expressing to General Washington my disappointment at these symptoms of a change of principle, and that I thought them encouraged by the forms and ceremonies, which I found prevailing, not at all in character with the simplicity of republican government, and looking as if wishfully. to those of European courts. His general explanations to me were, that when he arrived at New York to enter on the executive administration of the new governmennt, he observed to those who were to assist him, that placed as he was in an office entirely new to him, unacquainted with the forms and ceremonies of other governments, still less apprized of those which might be properly established here, and himself perfectly indifferent to all forms, he wished them to consider and prescribe what they should be; and the task was assigned particularly to General Knox, a man of parade, and to Colonel Humphreys, who had resided some time at a foreign court. They, he said, were the authors of the present regulations, and that others were proposed so highly strained, that he absolutely rejected them. Attentive to the difference of opinion prevailing on this subject, when the term of his second election arrived, he called the Heads of departments together, observed
to them the situation in which he had been at the commencement of the government, the advice he had taken, and the course he had observed in compliance with it; that a proper occasion had now arrived of revising that course, of correcting in it any particulars not approved in experience; and he desired us to consult together, agree on any changes we should think for the better, and that he should willingly conform to what we should advise. We met at my office. Hamilton and myself agreed at once that there was too much ceremony for the character of our government, and, particularly, that the parade of the installation at New York ought not to be copied on the present occasion, that the President should desire the Chief Justice to attend him at his chambers, that he should administer the oath of office to him in the presence of the higher officers of the government, and that the certificate of the fact should be delivered to the Secretary of State to be recorded. Randolph and Knox differed from us, the latter vehemently : they thought it not advisable to change any of the established forms, and we authorized Randolph to report our opinions to the President. As these opinions were divided, and no positive advice given as to any change, no change was made. Thus the forms, which I had censured in my letter to Mazzei, were perfectly understood by General Washington, and were those which he himself but barely tolerated. He had furnished me a proper occasion for proposing their reformation, and, my opinion not prevailing, he knew I could not have meant any part of the censure for him.
Mr. Pickering quotes too (page 34) the expression in the letter, of the men who were Samsons in the field, and Solomons in the council, but who had had their heads shorn by the harlot England'; or, as expressed in their re-translation, the men who were Solomons in council, and Samsons in combat, but whose hair had been cut off by the whore England. Now this expression also was perfectly understood by General Washington. He knew that I meant it for the Cincinnati generally, and that, from what had passed between us at the commencement of that institution, I could not mean to include him. When the first meeting was called for its establishment, I was a member of the Congress then sitting at Annapolis. General Washington wrote to me, asking my opinion on that proposition, and the course, if any, which I thought Congress would observe respecting it. I wrote him frankly my own disapprobation of it; that I found the members of Congress generally in the same sentiment; that I thought they, would take no express notice of it, but that in all appointments of trust, honor, or profit, they would silently pass by all candidates
of that order, and give an uniform preference to others. On his way to the first meeting in Philadelphia, which I think was in the spring of 1784, he called on me at Annapolis. It was a little after candle-light, and he sat with me till after midnight, conversing, almost exclusively, on that subject. While he was feelingly indulgent to the motives which might induce the officers to promote it, he concurred with me entirely in condemning it; and when I expressed an idea that, if the hereditary quality were suppressed, the institution might perhaps be indulged during the lives of the officers now living, and who had actually served ; No,' he said,
not a fibre of it ought to be left, to be an eye-sore to the public, a ground of dissatisfaction, and a line of separation between them and their country': and he left me with a determination to use all his influence for its entire suppression. On his return from the meeting, he called on me again, and related to me the course the thing had taken. He said, that, from the beginning, he had used every endeavor to prevail on the officers to renounce the project altogether, urging the many considerations which would render it odious to their fellow-citizens, and disreputable and injurious to themselves ; that he had at length prevailed on most of the old officers to reject it, although with great and warm opposition from others, and especially the younger ones, among whom he named Colonel W. S. Smith as particularly intemperate. But that in this state of things, when he thought the question safe, and the meeting drawing to a close, Major L'Enfant arrived from France with a bundle of eagles, for which he had been sent there, with letters from the French officers who had served in America, praying for admission into the order, and a solemn act of their King permitting them to wear its ensign. This, he said, changed the face of matters at once, produced an entire revolution of sentiment, and turned the torrent so strongly in an opposite direction, that it could be no longer withstood : all he could then obtain, was a suppression of the hereditary quality. He added, that it was the French applications, and respect for the approbation of the King, which saved the establishment in its modified and temporary form. Disapproving thus of the institution as much as I did, and conscious that I knew him to do so, he could never suppose that I meant to include him among the Samsons in the field, whose object was to draw over us the form, as they made the letter say, of the British government, and especially its aristocractic member, an hereditary House of Lords. Add to this, that the letter saying, that two out of the three branches of legislature were against us,' was an obvious exception of him ; it being well known that the majorities in the two branches of Senate and Representatives were the very instruments which carried, in opposition to the old and real republicans, the measures which were the subjects of condemnation in this letter. General Washington, then, understanding perfectly what and whom I meant to designate, in both phrases, and that they could not have any application or view to himself, could find in neither any cause of offence to himself; and therefore neither needed, nor ever asked any explanation of them from me. Had it even been otherwise, they must know very little of General Washington, who should believe to be within the laws of his character what Doctor Stuart is said to have imputed to him. Be this, however, as it may, the story is infamously false in every article of it. My last parting with General Washington was at the ipauguration of Mr. Adams, in March, 1797, and was warmly affectionate; and I never had any reason to believe any change on his part, as there certainly was none on mine. But one session of Congress intervened between that and his death, the year following, in my passage to and from which, as it happened to be not convenient to call on him, I never had another opportunity; and as to the cessation of correspondence observed during that short interval, no particular circumstance occurred for epistolary communication, and both of us were too much oppressed with letter-writing, to trouble, either the other, with a letter about nothing.
The truth is, that the federalists, pretending to be the exclusive friends of General Washington, have ever done what they could to sink his character, by hanging theirs on it, and by representing as the enemy of republicans him, who, of all men, is best entitled to the appellation of the father of that republic which they were endeavoring to subvert and the republicans to maintain. They cannot deny, because the elections proclaimed the truth, that the great body of the nation approved the republican measures. General Washington was himself sincerely a friend to the republican principles of our constitution. His faith, perhaps, in its duration, might not have been as confident as mine; but he repeatedly declared to me, that he was determined it should have a fair chance for success, and that he would lose the last drop of his blood in its support, against any attempt which might be made to change it from its republican form. He made these declarations the oftener, because he knew my suspicions that Hamilton had other views, and he wished to quiet my jealousies on this subject. For Hamilton frankly avowed, that he considered the British constitution, with all the corruptions of its administration, as the most perfect model of government which had ever been devised by the wit of man ; professing, however, at the same time, that the spirit of this country was so fundamentally republican, that it
would be visionary to think of introducing monarchy here, and that, therefore, it was the duty of its administrators to conduct it, on the principles their constituents bad elected.
General Washington, after the retirement of his first cabinet, and the composition of his second, entirely federal, and at the head of which was Mr. Pickering himself, had no opportunity of hearing both sides of any question. His measures, consequently, took more the hue of the party in whose hands he was. These measures were certainly not approved by the republicans ; yet were they not imputed to him, but to the counsellors around him; and his prudence so far restrained their impassioned course and bias, that no act of strong mark, during the remainder of his administration, excited much dissatisfaction. He lived too short a time after, and too much withdrawn from information, to correct the views into which he had been deluded ; and the continued assiduities of the party drew him into the vortex of their intemperate career ; separated him still farther from his real friends, and excited him to actions and expressions of dissatisfaction, which grieved them, but could not loosen their affections from him. They would not suffer the temporary aberration to weigh against the immeasurable merits of his life ; and although they tumbled bis seducers from their places, they preserved his memory embalmed in their hearts, with undiminished love and devotion ; and there it for ever will remain embalmed, in entire oblivion of every temporary thing which might cloud the glories of his splendid life. It is vain, then, for Mr. Pickering and his friends to endeavor to falsify his character, by representing him as an enemy to republicans and republican principles, and as exclusively the friend of those who were so; and had he lived longer, he would have returned to his ancient and unbiassed opinions, would have replaced his confidence in those whom the people approved and supported, and would have seen that they were only restoring and acting on the principles of his own first administration.
I find, my dear Sir, that I have written you a very long letter, or rather a history. The civility of having sent me a copy of Mr. Pickering's diatribe, would scarcely justify its, address to you.. I do not publish these things, because my rule of life has been never to harass the public with fendings and provings of personal slanders; and least of all would I descend into the arena of slander with such a champion as Mr. Pickering. I have ever trusted to the justice and consideration of my fellow-citizens, and have no reason to repent it, or to change my course. At this time of life, too, tranquillity is the summum bonum. But although I decline all newspaper controversy, yet when falsehoods have been ad